Or: Feelings when your 21 year old scribbles on the £90 “open ended play” wobbel board (my gift to him on his first birthday).
When this happens to your natural wobbel and it doesn’t come off…
– It doesn’t affect usage – it still functions perfectly as a wobbly board and slide and baby doll rocker and toy car ramp and…
– It’s one of a kind! Personalised by its owner. (Yes, the kid owns it… I don’t!)
– It will probably have more “personalisations” before the kid is done with it. And whilst it’s not encouraged, it’s okay.
The world keeps turning.
My child is healthy and happy.
I’m grateful I live in a place where we don’t have to worry about most of the things that negatively affect the world’s children today. My child isn’t living in poverty or fleeing war or suffering abuse or neglect.
I understand we buy these beautiful (and expensive) things for our children and it’s disappointing when they scribble on them, and I had a moment of, “Oh no!”
But… I was someone who was told I’d never have a child naturally, so I’m just grateful I get to have my child scribble and for that scribble to be preserved for posterity.
For the lost babies, and for the never-borns, and for the parents without children and for the never-parents with spaces in their hearts where babies should be, I dedicate this wobbel. To me it’s perfect. 🌈❤️
I’ve been meaning to write for a while about the rabbit hole that is…
(Cue spooky music, it is Halloween after all!)
Transporting a child.
Now, before I had a baby I had not given much thought to it. I assumed I would get a pram (or stroller as Americans call them, or buggy or pushchair as British people call them… so many names).
We went to the baby shows and we decided only the best for our unborn child!!!
Which was the eye-wateringly expensive Stokke Scoot. Now, almost two years on I still love Stokke. There’s some good old Scandinavian engineering there.
And the £700ish worth of pushchair has sat in our hallway for a year and a half and I estimate we have used it about 5 times.
Why? I hear you ask. (I mean, it’s such a tasteful shade of muted grey! I remember obsessing for ages about getting all the matching accessories!)
Well, we started out living in a one bedroom flat on the second floor (double height) which meant we had to walk up and down eight flights of stairs. And I had an emergency c section so I couldn’t really lift this 8kg thing in and out of the car boot very easily. And babies as it turns out are really small and very portable.
In that first shipment from the designer baby shop I thought I might as well chuck in a sling. That was mainly because it was grey with stars on, and that was kind of our motif.
First day we got back home and I went out to our local M&S food hall (because dammit mama needed soft rinded unpasteurised cheese!) and took baby B in the sling.
And it stuck.
Wore it for like three months and everyone commented how he was a dream baby, always sleeping on his mama. Because as it turns out, babies like to sleep on their mama. And I unexpectedly turned out to have one thing my defective body could actually do and that was breastfeeding. And breastfeeding is easier in a sling than a pushchair. And I live in London where everyone uses public transport and who wants to be lugging a giant pram on and off a bus or down steps and escalators to the tube?
We had months of freedom and we loved it. And my initial perception of slings as limited to hippy earth mothers turned into a slight feeling of – eek! Maybe I’m one of those!
At three-ish months he was getting a bit big and my shoulder was getting a bit sore so I decided to try a wrap. Wraps are just long pieces of material you tie to carry your baby. It’s easier as it moulds to your and your baby’s body and you can carry two shouldered, and they are super comfortable.
So I got my first wrap.
And then I discovered… high end babywearing.
Oh dear lord, if there isn’t a whole world of craziness. Turns out people will pay loads to get hold of pieces of material. And yet… they’re so pretty!
Reader, I fell down that rabbit hole.
Behold a phenomenon called “stash shot Saturday” – if you ever see #sss on social media and a pile of material, it’ll most probably be babywearing stuff.
And yet… it’s so pretty!
(Kid loves it too.)
The high end babywearing world is a completely other world. What you’re about to see is not even considered a big stash! It kind of is a bit of a phenomenon. Wrap manufactures do small releases and people have to bid for the chance to buy them. You might not even “win” an invoice! (A chance to pay hundreds for a piece of material!) People trade used wraps and they can even fetch retail or above retail prices (though the bottom has fallen out of the market in the last couple of years). It’s the only market I can think of where second hand stuff can potentially fetch what you paid for it. (I do think it’s a bit Emperor’s New Clothes at times but I only buy wraps that I can afford and that I like, so am potentially fine not getting any money back on them.)
My pretties (bottom to top):
- My first wrap, Kokadi Diorite Stars size 6 (a common base size – it means you can do most carries with it). It wasn’t “High end” which means it wasn’t expensive. But I loved it. It’s 100% cotton and I learned to wrap with it.
- Kokoro mini ren Nero 6 – my second wrap. They’re quite rare. At that point I really wanted an entirely mono stash. But as you can see, things changed!
- Omnifera Heart Rock Montmartre 4 – I was desperate for this. For ages they only had one Heart Rock pattern. It is geometric mountains and it’s really gorgeous. This was limited to the Paris babywearing show. I couldn’t go but a friend bought it for me after I PayPal-ed her the money! Crazy. Was going down the rabbit hole at this point. Haha.
- Omnifera Heart Rock Aoraki 5 – this is the same pattern but different blend for summer and is very light blue. Most wraps have an inverted colour pattern on the other side.
- Woven Wings Eeyore RS (ring sling) – once B got to walking it turns out he prefers to be in and out a lot, and up and down. So RS are easier. This is my latest RS but I arranged the stash according to manufacturer! Woven Wings are a british brand and very big in the babywearing world. Their followers are called Winglets! They get a little fanatical!
- Woven Wings London RS – My first RS and not my last. Very early release. I think it’s cool.
- Kenhuru Valentine’s Sky Wedmid RS – I absolutely love this one. I was a fan of Kenhuru from the beginning as they’ve only been going about a year. I had a tester and got the bug. I loved this one but missed the release as I didn’t have funds. Then I got it in a mystery bag (where you pay a lot less but don’t know what you’re going to get). It’s a gorgeous deep red on one side and blue on the other. My favourite colours. The geometric pattern converges to make little bear icons which are really cool.
- Kenhuru Rok Starlight RS – I got this in a mystery bag when I already had Rok Starlight which was one of Kenhuru’s first releases. It was sort of a shame to get the same blend but I ended up using the RS a lot more than the wrap.
- Kenhuru Rok Starlight 4 – My first go at a shorter wrap. It’s a great workhorse and I didn’t worry about it too much as it wasn’t as expensive as the other high end wraps, so I actually ended up using it more.
B absolutely loves being carried and it’s a huge thing for me. Super healing I guess for things I didn’t even think I needed to heal from. (Infertility… loss… but also adoption. Giving birth to a biological child as an adoptee brings up a lot of emotions.)
It’s been a fun journey. I realised I have carried him pretty much every day since he was born. The only exceptions being the time I went on a work trip for a few days, and I really missed him. It’s a great thing and I like to think that and breastfeeding is giving us a good foundation for our future relationship. (Of course he may become one of those sulky teenagers but that’s almost a given, considering what a moody cow I am!)
When we went to see my bff overseas a few months ago, we finally realised we needed an alternative to babywearing. Babywearing is amazing and wonderful but when it’s 35 degrees C it can be a touch sweaty.
B has been a stroller refuser forever but even he agreed. I got him a horrendous cheap lime green extremely distasteful cheapie from the nearest baby shop, and he tolerated it! He always screamed the place down in the very expensive Stokke and demanded to be out and held. But in the sweltering heat, he decided he preferred to have his own air circulating rather than his mother’s sweat.
So the hunt was on for a decent occasional stroller!
Now I’m kind of a crazy obsessive when it comes to traveling light. I don’t really end up doing it but I have a love for compactness and one bag travel. I’m literally obsessed with rucksacks. (You lot call them backpacks.) I buy so many of them in the search for the perfect one. So of course I wanted to find a lightweight compact stroller for traveling and when we were somewhere hot and babywearing wasn’t practical. And for public transport etc in London where massive prams are just a pain.
Reader, I found it.
Behold… the gb (goodbaby) Pockit+. This is the new improved compact foldable buggy that is slightly bigger / heavier but has better features than the original Pockit.
Pretty much everyone in London either uses the Bugaboo Bee or the Babyzen Yoyo for their lightweight stroller. Which are both £300+ prams. It just didn’t appeal to me, partly because I don’t want to pay that much for something I won’t use very often and partly because I like to kid myself that I’m different.
Anyway, it’s great. Here it is next to my handbag so you can see it folds super compact.
My handbag is a small cross body bag so if you have a big handbag you could more or less fit it in there! Although it has its own bag (which also folds down into a little wallet size, which appeals to my sense of small travel stuff).
Here it is next to the Babyzen Yoyo. It doesn’t look like it because of the angle (it was at nursery) but it’s smaller than the Yoyo when folded. The Yoyo doesn’t have a carry bag and it just looks messier to me. But it does have a much larger basket underneath. It’s heavier too but most people aren’t obsessed with saving weight.
Anyway my point is that if you are in the market for a Yoyo or a Bee then you might consider a Pockit+. It comes with a rain cover too and bizarrely the kid – who hated the Stokke – loves to ride around in it and will climb into it by himself. It’s also easily washable as you just take the material off and shove it in the wash. I’m happy with it and it’s a lot cheaper than the Yoyo which is just as well as I spent like £1000 on the initial Stokke pram, car seat and bundle! (I guess it’s time to sell the barely used Stokke.)
So there you have it, my review of transporting my kid about. Caveat: There’s no right way. It’s just what works for you and your lifestyle. I’m a lazy mama who prefers to travel light rather than weigh myself down with everything that I might possibly need. I have friends who travel like pack horses. The plus being that they usually have what we need if we ever need it! (Uppababy devotees. Couldn’t fit through a single door but on the plus side they could probably camp out at short notice if they had to!)
I also have far too many thoughts on rucksacks but those will have to wait for another post. Believe me, I know you’re on the edge of your seat just waiting to hear about those! 😂
Had one of my decompression nights last night – dinner with a few girlfriends. Three of us have one child; one has two, and the other two with one are trying for another. So naturally on mum’s night out the kids were a topic of conversation. (And bikini waxes, but that’s another story!)
We got onto the subject of “onlies” and the conversation didn’t go the way I expected…
It started the way I expected with the whole, “We want another so he won’t be on his own when we die.” (We all agreed that this probably wouldn’t happen!)
Then our friend with two said: It’s actually very hard with two. (She’s a single parent who co-parents with her ex.)
Then our friend with one said: We are actually really happy with our one, and if it doesn’t happen then we won’t be upset.
I said, we are happy and we don’t want another because we feel so very lucky with the one we have, and because I thought I’d never be a mother.
Then our friend who lost her first baby (tragically stillborn) said: We’d love to have another but we will just see what happens. It’s not the same as when we were trying to have our baby after our first died. We are happy.
Then she said something else: She said, “You know, I’ve never seen you become frustrated with him. You are so patient! I don’t think you’ve ever even raised your voice to him.”
And the funny thing is, I don’t think of myself as a patient person. I’m a hothead. But I think she’s right.
I’ve never had to shout at him. I don’t think I feel frustrated with him because – well, he’s a baby, and he can’t fully express himself and that must be frustrating for him, but also – I can’t tell you how much I wanted this.
Ten years. More than ten, depending on how you count it. A decade of barrenness. Operations, IVF, miscarriage, immune therapy. Thinking of a life where I would have to learn to be happily childfree. (And I think we would have been, but we needed to know we had tried everything first.)
I genuinely don’t feel that frustration because I think he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. And I’m lucky because a lot of good things have happened, and it almost fades the lonely and sad years of infertility and despair out of existence.
But not quite. I remember what it was like to be always the aunt, always the “fun childless friend”. I don’t take this – motherhood – for granted. I will relish all the days.
So – yes – I can be patient. But I’m not a saint. I’m just someone who knows how bloody lucky I am.
After my previous post about liking B’s long hair, I caved to the pressure (and the fact that it’s so hot here and the hair at the back was bugging him) and we got B’s hair cut for the first time!
We went to our local kids’ salon which is really quite cute and totally set up for kids. However this does mean that the kids scream the place down if they don’t like it. We arrived and some kid was already doing that… We decamped to the cafe before being called back.
B was fine. He’s a generally chilled kid. He enjoyed sitting in the little car and pretending to drive it whilst an annoying lady fiddled with his hair.
The other kid on the other hand SCREAMED the place down! Was sort of funny and sort of OMG YOU ARE RUINING MY SON’S FIRST HAIRCUT! (Jk)
We did the first haircut thing where you get a certificate and a lock of hair. There wasn’t much as she didn’t cut much off! We basically just trimmed the back bit that annoys him. (We can tell as he scratches at it and has scratch marks from his nails!) And a little bit round the sides by his ears. Left the top long so he still has a side parting and can have a top knot. She wanted to trim it more but I said no!
Not sure what made me cave when I do actually like his long hair. It’s mainly that it’s really hot here right now and impractical. I have long hair and I wear it up when I’m at home (messy bun I wouldn’t go out of the house wearing it!) so I can imagine he gets hot, although his hair is just light and fluffy.
Anyway, as T said – hair grows back.
Overall he’s had a positive reaction and it isn’t too drastic so hopefully we did the right thing! I know it’s not a big deal but it seemed like quite a big thing to have his first haircut. Now it’s out of the way I can be less sentimental about it!
So there’s a lot of things I didn’t think I’d do as a mother: extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, vegetarianism and whatnot.
What I didn’t think was that I’d be the mother of a long haired little boy.
I guess I always thought it was a bit… hippy… and I don’t really see myself as the natural earth mother sort. I actually was probably a little bit <whispers> judgy about the long haired boys…
And somehow I’ve ended up with one!
It’s not really a statement about anything but more the fact that I haven’t gotten around to getting his first haircut. (He’s 18 months.) And I don’t trust his dad to do it as he’s likely to end up with a pudding bowl!
I don’t think I’d want it particularly short anyway, but I think it looks cute how it is. He tends to have it in a little topknot or “man bun” because of the hot weather. I kind of think he can get away with it because he’s “ethnic”… and mainly because he’s cute!
But a part of me thinks it’s a bit hokey and at some point I’ll get it cut. His dad wants to get it cut but also doesn’t mind the ponytails… The nursery workers tend to put it into a braid and that looks cute as well, but is out of my ability range!
The more people tell me I “must” get it cut, the more I think – why?
Why do boys have to have short hair and girls long hair?
(I have long hair but it’s less through design than the fact that I hate having my hair cut.)
I’m not one of those gender neutral dressers of kids… (Not that there’s anything wrong with it; I just find it cute and comfortable for him to wear boys’ clothes. I’m happy for him to wear what he wants when he’s of an age to choose.) I’m not trying to make him look gender neutral or like a girl.
I just think there’s nothing wrong with his hair as it is.
The first of our antenatal group is pregnant with #2. She’ll just about make it to 2 under 2. (The second is due on the first’s birthday! Poor kid!) I don’t feel terrible about it… I just feel a bit, “meh.”
She was a complete nightmare during pregnancy and most of the first year – super anxious and burning up our group WhatsApp on a daily basis with hundreds of messages about herself and her (totally healthy) baby, so much that I had to mute the group when I had to go back to work at four months. (I’d be pumping in the loos and they’d all be whinging about their babies, when I desperately wanted to be with mine.)
Am now considering whether it’s time to leave the group… Whilst I’m okay (I think) with them moving to #2, I still have some difficult feelings when I hear of people getting pregnant really easily.
I guess it’s a rite of passage for parents of onlies, and I’m thankful we have our only after all the years of having none, but still…
B and I are on a little jaunt to see my BFF in Italy. It’s beautiful… and hot! I’ve been promising her for about five years I’d come and visit but with one thing and another, it’s taken so long to actually make it here.
I only took three days off work but it feels like it’s stretching out and we are in a bliss filled bubble of gelato and delicious Italian food! We also have a funny paddling pool on the balcony that’s big enough for us all to sit in.
It’s been great to catch up with my best friend and also to enjoy B in a longer, holiday mode! I always spend weekends with him but I can’t quite describe how fun it is to see the world through his eyes. It makes me remember the joy in little things. I do generally enjoy my job but it’s been a stressful few months and a holiday is exactly what I needed!
Looking forward to our proper summer holiday later in the year, and of course missing T and Dog, but relishing this short break while it lasts!
A few pics to entertain you…
B’s favourite teacher left nursery (daycare) yesterday. It’s a big thing because she’s the first person B really took a shine to. He started nursery as a tiny little 4 month old and so back then he didn’t really have a preference, other than me.
Miss J doesn’t even teach the littles – she teaches preschool! I don’t know how he decided he loves her but he did. She’s a black lady with bleached blonde cropped hair so I don’t think it’s because she looks like me! He’d hold out his arms whenever she went past, and as he got older he would follow her around and insist on sitting with her.
I decided we better show her how much we are going to miss her. But I’m also working full time and I don’t ever seem to be organised enough!
I ordered a cushion cover online that was personalised. It said: “It takes a big heart to help shape little minds.” And it said Thank you from B.
Her last day was Friday and I had a team meeting across town so I couldn’t be there for the leaving tea they were throwing her. But Thursday pm and the cushion still hadn’t arrived! I had a cushion but no cover!
I was supposed to be all day Friday across town in the office but I decided to work from home in the morning. The vendor assured me it would arrive before 12 and I had to be leaving by 1…
I started panicking a bit and thinking if it doesn’t arrive I won’t be happy to give her generic stuff, so I’ll try and do something. We bought her some nice flowers and chocolates and a card. But it didn’t seem enough!
So before my conference call I decided to whip this up. I still had gold fabric paint from my various Christmas craft projects, and I remembered I had a spare jute bag because I had made a personalised pre-wedding bag for T’s sister’s wedding.
Usually when I make these bags I spend a while considering the pattern and take lots of care over it… but this time I had about 20 mins before my conference call started, and I knew it would take a few hours for the paint to dry, so I needed to get it done as quickly as possible.
Here’s the result… It has her initial monogram and it even has a hidden heart with B’s initial.
And what should turn up at 11ish but the cushion cover… so we were able to give her a nice bag of gifts. When I took it to nursery she was really touched especially when I showed her the heart and his initial, and the personalised cushion. She gave me lots of hugs and said she would really miss him.
We will really miss her, too.
(Title apologies to Alan Sillitoe)
Readers, I’ve been feeling morose lately. I’m not quite sure why. I’m fairly sure it’s hormonal and maybe to do with those crazy chemicals rushing around my body, or work being a bit full on and then easing off, or breastfeeding slowing down a bit… or something.
In one way I’m my usual deliriously happy self. B is an absolute joy. I can’t believe I still have him, and get to be his mama, and all that stuff. I mean it’s like a little injection of happiness to every single day.
It’s not that I’m particularly unhappy with life. It’s just that now and again I feel a bit morose and this week happens to be it. Maybe it’s that the weekend went too fast, because we went to see both sets of grandparents and didn’t really get much downtime with just our little family.
Maybe it’s the work thing. Work’s going really well. I feel lucky to have landed a boss who I get on really well with and I mainly enjoy the work. But the gigantic bid I was working on hasn’t transpired yet and my boss wants me to go back to a day job (a decent job I can’t complain about – I’ve just been very full on with the bid for months and months and it takes up a lot of energy, so it feels a bit of an anticlimax to be tailing off that…)
I definitely think social media has something to do with it. I recently took a break from a big adoption group I’m very involved in. It’s something I keep meaning to write about but never seem to have the emotional energy. I’ve mentioned before that I kind of ebb and flow with it. Which makes me sound ambivalent but really it’s not that – it’s about self care and realising you can’t be on high emotional alert all the time.
The big adoption story in the news is something that those not in adoptionland probably aren’t aware of, but something that has been weighing heavily on my mind. And very upsetting to many transracial adoptees.
A couple of white adoptive mothers drove a car off a cliff, killing their six black adopted children. It transpired they had been somewhat evasive of CPS and concerns had been raised in multiple states. And one of the mothers had already been convicted of hurting one of the little girls who’d been beaten black and blue over the edge of a bathtub. Who does that to a child?
Moreover, one of the children was Devonte Hart, whose picture went viral when he was pictured crying and hugging a policeman. Anyone who knows anything about racial justice would notice the peculiarity of a black boy hugging a white policeman for the cameras – egged on by his white adoptive parents.
The more facts that come out about this story, the more hurt and triggers are piled up. As transracial adoptees we know that the narrative is heavily skewed in favour of white adoptive parents. And so much of the time that is manifested in benefit of the doubt and excuse making. It is upsetting because of the sheer amount of loss these young adoptees had. And to end their lives at the hands of those who called themselves their parents; the people who were meant to love them.
And the fact that there are many injustices still being perpetuated against adoptees, such as access to basic medical records and original birth certificates.
I guess you could say over time I’ve become awoken to these injustices. Part of me wishes I’d just stayed blissfully ignorant.
So – self care and social media. I’ve tried to take breaks but I find that it can be somewhat addictive. If I’m trying to stay away, I tend to hang out more in the Disney groups because how horrible can people be when it comes to Disney?! (It turns out you still do get mean people in all groups… sad!)
Mum groups can be one of the worst. I think I’ve mentioned before that I have felt really at odds since I went back to work and most of the mums I knew didn’t. It’s a lonely path to tread.
Mum groups online are kind of vicious. Even the ones that are meant to be non-judgemental and supportive. They have reams of nice supportive comments and then you’ll get the odd mean one, and depending on the day I find that can get me down (even though I don’t tend to post on them very often – I only try and comment supportively now and again). But anything based around an ideology, like motherhood is… well, it can be taxing.
Breastfed vs formula fed
Gentle parenting vs Cry It Out
Working mums vs SAHMs vs part time working mums
Only children vs sibling groups
It’s like everything mum related is shrouded in judgement. And maybe you join online groups looking for likeminded people because there aren’t that many in real life, but then they end up making you feel all heckled and I just wonder sometimes if it’s worth it.
Real life is another story. I do have some working mum friends because we have met other working mums through nursery (daycare). And it’s nice to see them because it makes me feel a bit less of an odd one out for working. The sad thing is, I think the SAHMs think I’m somehow competing with them or something when really I would have preferred not to go back to work! It kind of blows my mind I’ve been back for almost a year when if I’d had maternity leave like most people in the UK do, I would only just have gone back.
My NCT (antenatal) group makes me wonder as well. Out of seven mums in the only one to have gone back to work full time, and I feel like a completely odd one out. And I wonder if there’s any point in keeping on that friendship / contact when I usually end up feeling pretty negative about it.
An example (feel free to skip as I’m just venting here):
Before Christmas they wanted to have a meet up, and so I offered to book somewhere for a Christmas dinner, and we’d get the babies all dressed up and so on. They all agreed. Then when we had agreed a date, I got the details of the local pub and because it was Christmas they wanted us to pre-order, and give a deposit. Out of six other couples who had agreed, only two sent through the deposit and the other four just didn’t say anything. Nothing (on a whatsapp group). In the end I cancelled it. They didn’t even apologise. Just ignored it. In the end, the three couples who had agreed to meet had a meet up, plus one other couple. The others didn’t bother.
So now it’s April and they decided we should meet up. One of the girls (SAHM who quit her job after the baby was born and has got super involved in all the local baby stuff) decided to organise it. And found various non child friendly places. Bear in mind this involves seven kids. I found a place with a kids play area and high chairs and instead she decided we would go to a pub and the kids would just sit on our laps or whatever, and we would go for Sunday roast at the only time they have available… 11:30.
Then she says we all have to pre order and pay a deposit. Sound familiar? And of course everyone replies and says yes sure. That’s fine.
Just writing this out makes me feel super petty and ridiculous. I mean I shouldn’t even care. But I said it to T and he said he could understand why I’d feel upset. I mean the same people literally didn’t bother replying to me over the Christmas thing that they asked me to organise, and yet they’re falling over themselves to say yes to this arrangement of eating a roast on a Sunday morning. So strange.
I think maybe I’m just overly emotional lately because I don’t know what. (Hormones? Periods? I have to say I’m not happy about the Return of the Blob. It’s extremely unedifying.)
Also I had a health check at work because someone didn’t show up and the Health Champion guy really wanted someone to do it, so I did it. And I got weighed for the first time in forever and realised that I’m overweight and by way more than I want to be – 10kg minimum, and I suppose that sent me down a slight rabbit hole I had been avoiding. I finally dropped the habit of daily weighing when I was pregnant (after a slightly unhelpful obsession since my teens) and so getting back to that has mainly annoyed and upset me.
And I do wonder how much of it’s to do with breastfeeding. I have long thought it has an effect on mood. B is still nursing but less often now. Usually morning and night and I have one pumping session in between. So I’m sure that affects me. I know that pumping always made me kind of depressed and now he’s able to go longer between feeds even at the weekends, perhaps that’s depressing my mood a bit. (Don’t get me wrong. We still have fun. It’s impossible not to smile when you see a one year old’s joy on a swing.) Maybe I just need to ground myself more and try and rationalise it when I feel a bit low.
In the run of bad news, a close friend found out her husband of many years had cheated on her for the second time. I met up with her for a girly day and I just felt so sad for her. Two of my friends are battling cancer. One terminal. The world just seems kind of shitty some days.
Finally I guess I’m just feeling a bit run down and missing something. Maybe that’s it. Hay fever season is coming upon us and I feel a bit worse for wear. And I think often when you’ve been working hard and you suddenly ease up, that’s when it hits you. I feel kind of sad sometimes that I have to work and so I don’t get to see as much of my family as I’d like. I have such a wonderful time at the weekend that it maybe hits me hard when I have to go back to work on a Monday.
I don’t know what I’m hoping to accomplish with this post. I suppose catharsis.
I think what I mean to say is that I could have everything I ever wanted – and I do – but I still have down days sometimes, and today is one of them.
But right now I’m lying in bed – our superking sized giant mattress – and next to me is my little snorting baby-who’s-now-a-toddler, and further down the bed is my big boy Dog who’s turning five tomorrow, and on the other side is my partner T, my best friend, who I too often take for granted. And we are in my absolute dream apartment. I love it, with its little terrace, and summer is coming so we can spend more time outside and it’ll be lovely.
Today I have the blues but tomorrow is one step closer to the weekend…
I’ve talked a lot about infertility before – that’s the reason this blog started in the first place. But once you’ve been through it all and ended up with a baby – what are you? I’m still technically infertile, but I am a mother. I don’t feel like I can properly call myself infertile, aligning myself with the many women still in pain, still trying to deal with infertility, when I have our longed for child.
I talked about the strange hinterland of post infertility on one of my previous blogs. It’s that way we’re a particular kind of mother, an ever-grateful mother, a mother who doesn’t take having a baby for granted. I feel like a mother in an everlasting state of wonderment and joy that I get to be one. (It’s kind of sickening how happy I am about the whole thing, and I can assure you I don’t go around pooping rainbows – I just hold the happiness in my heart when my baby giggles or reaches for me, or does just about anything…)
I also feel The Fear for others. I have friends who get pregnant and announce straight away and I have to stop myself from saying, – Stop! What if?! and How can you be sure? – because those are my anxieties and not hers. It’s a strange place to be because we know what could go wrong, and we are those Miracle Mamas, the Mamas Against All Odds, and so our very being is confirming to them that good things do happen, and so we can’t be the ones to rain on their parade even though we know that not all trying ends up with a pregnancy, and not all pregnancies end up with a baby, but we nod along and smile because that’s what we do.
One of the things that’s come up a lot lately is the idea that one might not be enough.
And that’s something that’s just so alien to me, I can’t even imagine how it must feel to have that degree of sadness from having an “only”.
I was one of four siblings, and we got on well. It was complex, for sure – having two bios and two adopted. It was harder for the adoptees, but overall it was good – we had a fun childhood with lots of family games, kids going on adventures, and lots of freedom to play together. I don’t know why I never pictured myself as a mama of many. I guess I knew from quite a young age that I would find it difficult to have children. (I had been told something fleeting when I was much younger, which was never repeated by later doctors, but then told I had extensive endometriosis and likely fertility problems in my mid twenties.) I’ve always been someone who didn’t wish for things I didn’t think I could have. So the most I ever wished for was one.
Also, personally – I think I would have enjoyed being an only child. I don’t know if this is to do with being adopted or just my personality. I always felt as one of four that I didn’t get quite the amount of attention I would have wanted. And I don’t mean this in a drama queen way (although I had plenty of that) – I always felt needy, and maybe that is an adoption thing. I would just wish sometimes I could have a day of my parents just to myself. Don’t get me wrong – I do get on with my siblings. But I also enjoy now that I’m an adult that I often see my parents on their own and I don’t have to share them with anyone else! I guess I’d have been what they call now “a high needs child”!
So when I was told I probably couldn’t have kids, I just wished for the one, and when that wish was granted (by a lot of medical science and a fair amount of money and effort, rather than the Fertility Fairy!), I felt – gosh, life couldn’t get any better.
I see a lot of stuff now on FB about people worrying about only children. People worry they’ll be spoiled, or socially inept, or not know how to relate to other kids, or not able to function as adults, and I find it interesting because I wonder – where are they finding these terrible only children who grow up to be dysfunctional adults?! All of the single children I know have grown up to be just fine as adults. I don’t think they’re any better or worse functioning than the general population. And one thing they all had was a good relationship with their parents. B has been in nursery since a young age and he’s probably more socialised than a child who stays at home with his mother who doesn’t have a sibling for a few years. He enjoys seeing his friends at nursery, but he’s also securely attached to me. (And to his dad, and dog brother!) I figure so far, so good – he doesn’t seem like an irreparable weirdo!
For us, the lengths we went to in order to have B were pretty gruelling. (Though not a patch on what some have to go through. We were lucky.) I know that for me, I couldn’t be the mother I want to be to B if I were to continue going through additional treatments. It’s most likely I’d need another endo op, possibly another fibroid op, more IVF, more immune therapy. It was hard physically, but it was harder emotionally. I already feel a degree of loss that I have to go to work and B is at nursery during the work week, even though I know he’s absolutely fine. I wouldn’t want to be under emotional strain as well, trying to conceive a sibling, when I don’t think he needs one to be happy. I hope that by giving him a full life, and living in an urban area where there are a lot of kids about, that we can counter any potential loneliness he might have as an “only”.
I understand that being okay with one is not “normal”. Most people have more than one child. And maybe there’s something a bit strange about having no siblings, or not having multiple children. I don’t know. I feel sadness for people who can’t have children, including those who can’t have a second child and desperately want one. I just don’t feel the sadness of being a mother of one myself.
I never thought I’d be “that kind of mother”. I sort of thought that the baby phase would be kind of boring, that I’d probably find it a little bit of a drag until toddlerhood, until some kind of doing stuff like walking, eating, talking… but it’s been a joy. I thought I’d find it hard, because everything leading up to having a child has been hard, but it’s been relatively easy. And I don’t take that for granted at all. I’ve seen others struggle with breastfeeding and reflux and post natal depression and sleepless nights and I think we’ve been lucky, because it hasn’t been that hard for us. No tongue tie, no breastfeeding problems, no ongoing health issues and the sleepless nights I was used to due to my job! So whilst the adjustment has been monumental in some ways, it’s just been a case of slotting in as though he’s always been here in other ways.
And the thing that’s bittersweet as a mother of one is that I know that every time is the only time, and every last time is the very last time.
I’ll never have a tiny little baby again. B is my one and only (human!) baby and he’s now one, toddling about, vocalising, making his feelings known. (He’s a terrible tweenager already! Just like his mama used to be!) I’ll never see a baby take their first steps again. I’ll never see my baby roll for the first time again, or the time he worked out how to giggle and it made me cry with happiness – that’s the first and last time. We’re coming to the end of our pumping journey – and it’s been a slog. But the last time I pump breastmilk for him will be the last time. I can’t even think about the last time I breastfeed him. The last time I babywear. The last times are all the last times.
But… I feel so much gratitude that I even got to experience the firsts. And even if the firsts are also the lasts, I’m at peace with it, because it’s more joy than I ever thought I’d have.
I thought for so many years that I would never even have one, that I’d never be a mother. So to me, B, my “only”, my boy, is the most amazing thing. (I hesitate to call him a gift, because he’s not an object. He’s his own person, who has his own ideas of what he wants to happen in life, and most of those involve chocolate or bubbles). He’s an amazing, wonderful – and completely run-of-the-mill all at the same time, because that’s amazing also, the way we take the normal stuff for granted, the giving of life, the joy of family – little boy I never thought I’d have. So I guess I just never had the time to wish for another, because I was so busy wishing for him.